Demons burn Lions 35-16 in last home stand

On a special night for 19 seniors playing their last game in Strawberry Stadium the Lions (2-7, 1-4) were looking for their third straight win versus conference and in-state rival Northwestern State University (5-4, 4-1) on Sat. night. The Demons would spoil the night for the 19 seniors and Lion hopefuls with a 35-16 win over the Lions.

The Lions started off sluggish stalling on their first four drives of the game. NSU would do the exact opposite rolling on an 11 play 78 yard drive to begin that ended with a four yard TD pass from quarterback Paul Harris to Tucker Nims to put the Demons on top 7-0 with 08:14 remaining in the first quarter. At one point in the game Demons quarterback completed 11 consecutive passes ending the game 20-29 for 271 yards and 4 TDs. The Demons would add two more scores on their next two drives leaving the Lions with a 21-0 deficit to overcome after only one quarter of play.

“I felt like we were totally unprepared mentally and emotionally,” said Lions Head Coach Mike Lucas. “It’s my job to get them ready so apparently I didn’t have them ready.”      

The Lions defense would step up to the challenge to begin the second quarter as they forced the Demons into a punt. With a spark from the defense the Lions offense showed some life. Senior quarterback Tyler Beatty began the drive with a 16 yard scramble to give the Lions a first down in Demon territory. Later on a third down, Beatty connected with wide receiver Simmie Yarborough for a six yard pass placing the ball on the five and setting up a fourth and two where a sneak by Beatty would be stuffed bringing an end to an 11 play 60 yard drive with 4:44 remaining in the half.

“We went down 21 no panic we were still in the ball game and we went for it on fourth down and just didn’t get it,” said Coach Mike Lucas. “We were 0 for 3 on fourth down, we in just about every area in the game we got out physicalled by them.”

The Lions defense would hold once again on the Demons next drive, while the offense would look to continue their rhythm offensively in what would prove to be a productive second quarter. Beatty would connect with wide out Brandon Collins on a 26 yard pass to set the Lions up on the Demons 13 yard line. The Lions would later settle for a 24 yard field goal from kicker Seth Sebastian to make the score 21-3 with 03:09 remaining in the half. On the next Demons drive the senior safety Curtis Strong intercepted his fourth pass of the year at the NSU 46 returning it for 16 yards with 2:09 remaining in the half.

“They didn’t kill us we came back and got a little momentum,” said defensive back Tommy Connors.

 The Lions would settle for another field goal as Sebastian would knock down a career high 47 yarder to make the score 21-6 with 01:47 remaining in the half. The Lions were looking to mount a comeback but on the last possession of the half Harris completed a 33 yard TD pass to wide out Northwestern tight end Justin Aldredge with 00:27 seconds left in the half increasing their lead to 28-6. With senior QB Tyler Beatty suffering a high ankle sprain back-up Brian Young came in and completed a 24 yard pass to senior wide out Andre Cryer  and later a 14 yarder to Collins setting up a third successful field goal by Sebastian for 31 yards and sending the Lions into the half down 28-9.

“You got to prepare every week as if you’re going to be the starter, my heart goes out to Tyler going down like that on senior night but you got to be ready to go when your number gets called,” said Brian Young.  

On the opening drive of the third quarter the Demons drove deep into Lions territory but an attempt at a fake field goal negated their drive and gave the Lions a chance to cut down the 19 point differential. A drive that started out positive for the Lions would end in disaster as Young had his pass intercepted at the Demons 15 and returned for a 58 yard TD by Cortez Paige after a lateral from Jamaal White increasing the lead to 35-9 with 08:35 remaining in the third. The following drive the Lions drove deep into Demon territory again only to have a Young pass intercepted by White once again 05:20 remaining in the third. The Lions defense would respond with an interception of their own on the following drive by senior ball hawking safety Re’ Keem Wilson, who leads the team with five in the season.

The Lions would add a late fourth quarter score as Young connected on a 58 yard bomb to wide out Collins for their only TD of the night bring the final score 35-16.

The Lions were led offensively by Brian Young who went 17-31 with 1 TD, senior wide out Andre Cryer who caught 8 passes for 68 yards and wide out Brandon Collins who had 106 yard receiving and one TD on 4 catches.

Defensively the Lions were led by a group of seniors playing their last game in Strawberry Stadium including defensive back Tommy Connors who had a team high 15 tackles, Linebacker Mark Newbill, who had 13 tackles before leaving with a significant knee injury and becoming the first Lion defender to reach 401 career tackles and defensive backs Curtis Strong, Re’Keem Wilson and Clint Coleman who all had interceptions.

The Lions will be looking to rebound with a victory as they head across the state line to Nacogdoches, TX to face Stephen F. Austin.